Friday, 4 July 2014

Homemade White Bread

White bread, a staple of American meals, is easier to make than you may have expected. Most of you might be scrolling down after you see the word 'yeast' - whoa, whoa, whoa, this is actually very easy to make and uses only simple ingredients.

If you'd like a simple white bread, don't use the seeds or oats. If you'd like a healthier version, use them and you can also substitute half the flour for whole-wheat flour. You can experiment with different seeds and flours, if you like.

The yeast process-
Some people have loads of trouble with their yeast 'blooming'. For this, there are three simple keys:

Water temperature. If your water is too hot, the yeast cells that need to feed on nutrients in the water die, and your bread will not rise. If it is too cold, the cells won't activate, so it still won't rise. The proper temperature can be felt by hand - as warm as possible, not hot, but just so as that you can dip your finger in it without screaming.

Nutrients. In order to expand, your yeast cells need food to properly activate. Usually, sugar and salt do it perfectly, but honey is used in whole wheat bread.

Time. This is the most important key. I have some images here of what your yeast should look like…

The starting point...                 .      

                              2 minutes...

5 minutes...                          .

     And, finally, 10 minutes. Overflowing.

See, that's easy enough.

1 cup warm water (see 'Temperature', above)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast (use 1 tbsp if you want fluffier bread)
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tbsp olive oil
Optional additions,
3 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup rolled oats

In a large mug/cup or small bowl, combine the first four ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes (see 'Time', above).
In a large bowl, combine the oil, flour, seeds, and oats (if using). add the fermented yeast mixture and combine to form a shaggy, sticky dough. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface until smooth. Place in a large bowl and cover with foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, or even tea towels, to rise in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.

After an hour, dump out onto a floured surface. Punch down the dough. Place into a greased loaf tin and let rise for another half hour.

Before baking, spray the bread with water. Place in an oven at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) with a pan of boiling water.
Spray with water 5 minutes into baking.

When you tap it and it sounds hollow, remove from the oven and spray with more water. Remove from the pan. Let cool before slicing.


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